Why You Get Sick in Winter and How to Avoid It

At South Coast Medical Group, we know that with the Winter Season comes an increase in people getting sick. Sometimes in Winter, a whole family comes into our urgent care center with the cold or flu and asks our team of doctors and nurses, “Why does everyone get sick in the Winter?” The reality is that there are a number of reasons why people get sick in the Winter. Here are the facts on why you get sick in Winter and how you can avoid becoming ill.

Close to Others, Close to Illness

Since cold weather means that people are indoors more often, it also means that they are closer to people who may already be sick. Since going outside into the cold isn’t much of an option, people tend to stay indoors in close proximity to each other, even when someone may be fighting a virus or a bacterial infection. This seriously increases the chances of more people getting sick.

Family members often help each other by cooking a sick member of the family some soup or caring for them while they rest in bed. One unfortunate side effect of this is that the caregiver may end up sick themselves simply from being so close to the sick family member and interacting with them. Things are only made worse by the fact that the Flu Virus thrives in colder weather.

Cooking Up A Storm

With the Winter months also come holiday and seasonal cooking. Families often gather more for holidays, fresh cooked meals are more frequent, and so is baking using eggs or other ingredients susceptible to carrying harmful bacteria. Unfortunately, this also increases the chance of foodborne illnesses and food poisoning. Statistically, as more people are cooking and eating during the holidays, people are more likely to get sick, especially as family members in crowded home kitchens sometimes skip over hand washing to give hugs and kisses to visiting family.

“People often get so focused on the common cold during Winter that they forget about other illnesses like RSV, a respiratory illness, or rotavirus and norovirus that are commonly called stomach flu,” said Dr. John Cheng.

Cold On The Outside and On The Inside

Cold weather does more than just keep people bundled up indoors with the heat. It also reduces the chances people walk, exercise, and increases their blood pressure. A lack of exercise during colder months can be especially damaging to someone’s health if it leads to weight gain and increases the risk of a heart attack. One notable benefit of exercise is that it also boosts your immune system; so not exercising may only make it easier to catch a cold or other illness.

Staying Healthy in Winter

To avoid catching the cold, flu, or any other number of illnesses this Winter, there are a number of steps you should take. First, staying healthy means you should avoid anyone who is sick, even indoors. While this can be easier said than done, avoiding contact with a sick person and any surfaces or objects they’ve touched can go a long way to avoiding days or weeks of being ill yourself.

Second, cleaning surfaces that are frequently touched, such as handles, doorknobs, and railings can reduce the chances of catching any lingering viruses or bacteria. Also, washing your hands, using hand sanitizer, and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze (or avoiding the air around someone who coughs or sneezes) can reducing your chances of becoming sick. Third, trying to keep indoor areas well ventilated can help stop viruses from spreading. Even though this is easier said than done in cold weather, finding ways to ventilate your home or workspace will reduce the probability of more people getting sick.

If you haven’t been feeling well since Thanksgiving, you may be sick with a Winter illness like the cold or flu. Fortunately, our clinic is open on weeknights and weekends and we accept walk-ins. For over 19 years we have been helping our patients in the Aliso Viejo community stay healthy through the Winter months and recover from illness. If you or your family are not feeling well or just can’t seem to fight off the cold, flu, or another illness, please come in for your medical examination. Our team of friendly and trustworthy doctors and nurses will be ready to help you and ensure you recover as fast as possible in time for the holidays in December.